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Wood frame construction is one of the most widely used methods to build residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Wood frames are not only very economical to build but are also resistant to extreme climatic variations, and offer residents a high degree of comfort. Added to that, wood frames are sustainable and absorb carbon and offset greenhouse gasses.

Wood frames can be used to construct different styles of buildings and there cannot be any restriction on architectural possibilities when wood is the medium. In order for a wood building to perform its expected functions, it is necessary to construct it judiciously and this can be achieved by using sound construction and erection practices. For instance, wood frames are light in weight and hence it does not require cranes and other heavy machinery for the erection process therefore contributing to the economic aspect of construction.

Foundation for Wood Frames

Based on the type of soil and wood frame loads, a suitable foundation is specified for construction. Footings should be deep enough to avoid frost action in winter. The ground needs to be sufficiently compacted if the structure is constructed in an area where root trees have been removed or filled materials are placed. If the wood frame is constructed over poor soil, treated wood pile with wood or concrete sills can be used.

By and large, two types of foundations are widely used for wood structures: namely concrete foundation and pressure preservative treated wood foundation which are shown in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, respectively. Apart from these, free standing pier, piers with curtain walls, and pier supporting grading beam can also be utilized.

Concrete Foundation
Fig. 1: Concrete Foundation
Wood Foundation
Fig. 2: Wood Foundation

Methods of Wood Frame Construction

After the foundation has been laid, construction of wood frame structure begins. There are various types of techniques that can be used for the construction of wood frames. Suitable construction technique should be selected for a given wood structure:

1. Platform Frame Construction

It is an easy method and mostly suitable for the construction of houses. In this technique, first-floor joists are covered with sub-flooring to create a surface upon which exterior walls and interior partitions are erected. In the platform system, wall framing can be assembled on the floor and the entire unit can be tilted into its place.

Platform Frame Construction
Fig. 3: Platform Frame Construction

2. Balloon Frame Construction

It is another method of wood frame construction which although is a bit less popular compared to platform frame construction, but is utilized when the conditions ask for it. In this method, exterior wall studs and first-floor joists are supported by anchored sill. The exterior wall studs are continuous to the second floor. The second-floor joists are supported by ribbon strip which are inserted into the inside edges of exterior wall studs.

Balloon Frame Construction
Fig. 4: Balloon Frame Construction

3. Plank and Beam Frame Construction

In this framing method, beams, whose ends are supported by posts, are spaced at a maximum of 2.4m and planks are used to cover floors and roofs. The posts provide wall framing and planks act as subflooring and roof sheathing. Wall sheathing is attached to supplementary framing between posts. Roof and floor loads imposed on beams, then get transferred to the posts and are finally received by foundations.

Plank and Beam Construction
Fig. 5: Plank and Beam Construction

4. Truss-Framed Construction

In this frame construction method, roof truss, floor truss and metal anchors are used to build strong wood frames. Outstanding advantages of trussed frames are substantial rigidity and wider spacing of roof and floor supporting members.

Truss-framed Construction
Fig. 6: Truss-framed Construction

Types of Fastenings for Wood Frame

There are various fastening means which can be selected based on the size of wood elements and exerted loads used to attach different elements of wood frames together. Most common fastening techniques are discussed below:

1. Nails or Combination of Nails, Anchor and Additives

Nails or combination of nails, metal framing anchor, and construction additives are used to fasten framing lumber and sheathing panels.

2. Ring or Shank Nails

Ring or shank nails are used when high loads are to be supported

3. Nailed Joints

Nailed joints are used when loads act at right angles to nails, but it should be avoided if loads act parallel to the nail.

Wood Protection Measures

Provision of proper means to protect wood is an indicator of good construction practice. Wood frame elements, specifically all the foundation members, shall be protected against decay and termites.

Basic protection measures include the removal of tree root in areas around the structure prior to backfilling, carefully tamp loose backfill to decrease future settlement, and provide certain degree of slopes at foundation and over the building to force water away from the structure.

Finally, all wood structural elements shall be treated based on the exposure to weather and closeness to ground.

About Madeh Izat HamakareemVerified

Madeh is a Structural Engineer who works as Assistant Lecturer in Koya University. He is the author, editor and partner at theconstructor.org.